Updated: Oct 5
I visited Sydney quite a while ago now, all the way back in 2011. As a family we spent three weeks travelling around Australia including: Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Cairns and The Great Barrier Reef. Sydney will always be one of my favourite cities. Not only does it have some of the world’s most recognisable landmarks but it is also a beautiful city with so much to see and do.
1. Go to the beach – Bondi and Manly
Bondi beach and Manly beach are two of Sydney’s most popular beaches. When I was in Sydney I spent the day on Manly beach but didn’t get the opportunity to see the famous Bondi beach. My only knowledge of Bondi beach is due to the TV programme Bondi Rescue that I’ve been watching since I was a kid! Bondi beach is located four miles east of the Sydney central business district and it is one of Australia’s most visited tourist sites. However, Bondi beach is known for its dangerous rip currents and blue bottle jellyfish – so be careful!
Manly beach was the location of the world’s first surfing competition back in 1964. The beach itself is located further out of the city than Bondi so most people take the ferry across which takes approximately thirty minutes. Manly beach also has a very reputable surf school which is perfect for first timers hoping to catch some waves on one of Sydney’s most popular beaches.
2. Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Although I did not personally climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge when I was in Sydney, my dad and brother did. They absolutely loved the experience. The bridge climb gives you 360 degree views of Sydney which makes it the best spot to be in the city. The views are even better if you do the climb during dawn, dusk or at night. The duration of the climb is approximately 2-4 hours which gives you plenty of time to take it all in. This experience is not cheap though and will set you back approximately £100. In my opinion the price is worth the experience and it will certainly be something to tick off your bucket list. You can book this experience on bridgeclimb.com.
3. Take a hot-air balloon ride over Camden Valley
One of the best things I’ve ever done in my life is a hot air balloon ride. It may have been in Jaipur rather than Sydney but the experience is more or less the same. Take a sunrise flight above Camden Valley with Sydney’s city skyline on the horizon as you watch the sun come up – doesn’t sound too bad does it?! Not only do you get a fantastic view of Sydney’s skyline but in the other direction you also get the opportunity to see the Blue Mountains. There is no other activity in the world which allows you to experience views like this. The hot-air balloon ride starts at 4am and lasts for three hours. Not only do you get the opportunity to watch an Aussie sunrise in a hot-air balloon but a Champagne breakfast is also included in the ticket price – don’t mind if I do! The ticket price is approximately £180 for the balloon flight and breakfast (self-drive) or £200 for the balloon flight and breakfast (transfer included). You can book this experience on Klook.com.
4. Visit the Royal Botanic Garden
If you want a break from the hustle and bustle of city life, then I’d highly recommend visiting Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden. It is a heritage listed 74-acre botanical garden on the eastern side of the Sydney central business district. The gardens opened in 1816 which makes it the oldest scientific institution in Australia and thus one of the most important historical botanical gardens in the world. There are also shops and restaurants in the gardens in a complex called The Calyx. If you’d like to find out some more in depth information about the gardens, there is the option to take a guided tour. The opening hours are dependent on the season/month – the opening time is always 7am but the closing time ranges from 5pm in June and July to 8pm from November to February. Entrance to the gardens is free!
5. Kayak in Sydney’s famous harbour
Sydney by Kayak run what is a once in a lifetime opportunity to kayak in Sydney’s harbour. It’s an early start (5am wakeup call), if you choose to do the dawn kayaking, but not many people can say they’ve kayaked in Sydney’s world famous harbour during sunrise. Weekly dawn tours are available and the tour starts at Lavender Bay Boat Ramp. Kayaking in the early hours in the harbour is the perfect opportunity to take in Sydney’s surroundings before the city wakes up. You’ll be able to see the sunrise over Sydney’s Opera House which is one of the world’s most famous landmarks. As the ferries don’t start until 8am, there is plenty of time to explore around the harbour and take advantage of quietness. The company who run the tours also have a strong environmental ethos and were awarded silver at the prestigious NSW Tourism Awards in 2019 in the ecotourism category. Some of the kayak trips they run are specifically to pick up litter and plastic in Sydney’s harbour. The combination of the environmental ethos and once in a lifetime kayak opportunity has made this activity very popular! Search Sydney by Kayak to book your kayaking experience.